Is the airhead composting toilet worth it? Picking a van toilet is a big deal. If you get it wrong you’re going to have to deal with the consequences daily.
I labored over whether or not to spend one thousand dollars on an airhead composting toilet. That’s a ton of cash, is it worth it? But I was worried the other camper van toilet options would lead me to immediate regret.
Ultimately, I bought an airhead composting toilet for my van and I’m very happy with it.
Below is my complete airhead composting toilet review!
What is an Airhead Composting Toilet?
The airhead composting toilet is a waterless toilet. Sounds kind of weird, right?
Instead of requiring water to flush the bowl the airhead composting toilet works by separating liquids and solids into different holding tanks. Solids drop directly into the tank (thank you gravity) so there are no, err… skid marks.
How Does The Air Head Composting Toilet Work?
The first thing most people want to know is how to use a composting toilet. Surprise! It’s actually quite similar to a normal toilet. The primary difference is there’s no need to flush. Instead, just open the trapdoor before you go number two.
Air Head Toilet Features
+ Designed with rounded edges to fit tight spaces
+ Liquids tank holds 2 gallons
+ Solids tank designed for easy emptying
+ Liquids tank has a view window to discreetly indicate when full
+ Made in the USA
+ Residential size and shape toilet seat
Benefits of an Airhead Composting Toilet for Van Life
✅ Easy to install
✅ Easy to use
✅ No plumbing
✅ Waterless toilet, saves water
✅ No chemicals
✅ No odor
Disadvantages of an Airhead Composting Toilet for Camper Van
❌ Most expensive van toilet option
❌ Hard to see when it’s full
Airhead Composting Toilet Dimensions
Airhead composting toilet dimensions are 19” deep x 19 ¾” tall x 18 ¾” wide.
For super small spaces you can order the airhead composting toilet with a marine seat. This smaller version of the air head toilet measures 17 ½” deep x 19 ¾” tall x 18 ¾” wide.
Airhead Toilet Weight
An empty airhead toilet weighs 29 lbs (13 kg).
Alternatives to an Airhead Composting Toilet
There are many alternative composting toilets on the market:
- Nature’s Head
- Sun Mar GTG-01 GTG Urine Diverting Composting Toilet
- EasyLoo by Kildwick
- DIY composting toilet
While composting toilets all work the same way, generally, they differ in capacity, comfortability, size and cost.
Alternatives to a Composting Toilet for Van Life
Composting toilets aren’t your only option when it comes to a van toilet. Below are a few alternatives to composting toilets, or you can check out this article on the best types of portable camper van toilets.
- Incinerator toilet
- Cassette toilet
- Porta potty / Portable toilet
Installing an Airhead Composting Toilet in a Camper Van
Composting toilets are actually quite easy to install. They only require a hole to vent the exhaust (about ~3 inches in diameter) and brackets that mount to the floor.
- Cut a hole for the exhaust vent
- Install 12V fan and connect to power
- Cut vent hose to length and attach between fan and toilet
- Secure toilet mounting brackets to floor
- Prepare composting material for solids tank
Airhead Composting Toilet Price
Airhead composting toilets are one of the more expensive off-grid toilet options. They’re slightly more expensive than the Nature’s Head composting toilet.
However, for the small bump in cost the Airhead is the better option because it uses an actual toilet seat (not just molded plastic) that’s more comfortable and for its ability to empty the liquids container without having to open the solids tank.
The airhead composting toilet price is just over $1,000 USD.
Airhead Composting Toilet Problems
Even though the airhead composting toilet is one of the best van toilets on the market, it doesn’t come without some problems. You can expect some of these airhead composting toilet problems, as you would with most composting toilets:
Mixing Things You Don’t Want Mixed
Liquids getting into the solids tank can happen by leaks or cracks in the toilet seal. An unlevel toilet or poor “aim” can also cause liquids to run backwards into the solids tank instead of forwards towards the liquids tank as the diverter is designed to function.
When liquids and solids mix it creates sewage, which is a problem for several reasons – but the first one you’ll probably notice is the smell it produces. Gross.
With a limited capacity for liquids (2 gallons), it’s almost guaranteed that at some point (probably the middle of the night) you’re going to overflow your tank.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve encountered this problem (*multiple times*). However, based on the experiences of my friends who also live in vans this is really not that uncommon at all. As they say … shit happens!
(But to be clear, I’m talking about liquids overflow. Not solids. Solids overflow would be almost impossible, and yet highly impressive if accomplished.)
You read that right. Bugs.
They’re attracted to compost so it’s important to make sure your toilet installation is done correctly. Airhead composting toilets have multiple bug prevention features, and if used correctly, they are very effective.
The lid has a seal which prevents bugs from getting into the tank from the top. Each air inlet and outlet on the solids tank has a bug screen which allows air flow without worrying about flies or gnats. Additionally, the exhaust hose has an inline screen within it.
Keeping the fan on 24/7 will help deter flies and gnats because of the airflow. In addition to the provided screens, I also put one over the exhaust hole under my van for times when the van is stored/not being used, or when the fan is not running.
I have seen others complain about bugs, however, I have not personally had any issues with my airhead composting toilet attracting any flies or gnats.
This isn’t specific to only Airhead composting toilets, but all diverting toilets will build up a funky odor in the liquids tank unless it’s regularly cleaned.
Cleaning isn’t difficult – it just requires some vinegar and a few small rocks. A good shake will chemically and mechanically clear all the grime buildup inside.
I have not experienced that the liquids odor is noticeable in the van. The only time I notice it is while more liquids are entering the container which is pushing air (and odor) out. It’s very contained only to that 30 seconds and then it disappears quickly.
Unless you’ve retrofitted your airhead composting toilet to run liquids into a larger holding tank, the OEM tank only holds 2 gallons – equivalent to approximately 1-2 days capacity for a single user.
While it’s fairly quick and easy to empty the liquids container in most places, it’s still one more thing to remember. The times I’ve forgotten are approximately 3am or first thing in the morning… coincidentally those are the times I’m least interested in cleaning up that mess. Ergo, that is why this is in the ‘problems’ category.
The agitator is the mixing arm in the solids tank that helps aid the composting process. Composting requires air and mixing the solids material helps the stuff at the bottom break down.
Unfortunately, the agitator arm in the airhead composting toilet doesn’t quite reach the bottom, and it definitely doesn’t reach all of the sides. This means you need to glove-up and scrape out the bottom of the tank when you’re dumping the old material and replacing it with fresh composting medium.
Typically I notice that the bottom material left unscraped by the agitator is the original/unsoiled medium. The solids deposits don’t get mixed into it so it stays fairly “fresh” and is really not that unpleasant to scrape out.
Airhead Toilet FAQs
How do You Empty an Airhead Composting Toilet?
Airhead composting toilets have two holding tanks: one for solids and one for liquids. How you empty liquids is different than how you empty solids.
What do You do With Waste From a Composting Toilet?
The solids tank of an airhead composting toilet can be emptied into a garbage bag and disposed of with residential trash.
While this sounds weird, and like it shouldn’t be allowed, it’s important to remember that solids from a composting toilet aren’t considered sewage – sewage is when your liquids mix with your solids.
By separating solids and allowing them to compost the bad bacteria dies off quickly. When you empty your solids tank you’ll be pleasantly surprised to notice that it largely resembles and smells like dirt.
What to do With Urine From Compost Toilet?
To empty the liquids tank in an airhead composting toilet you can dump it in a toilet or pit toilet.
Additionally, in most places you’re permitted to dump your liquids on mature vegetation, following leave no trace principles.
Some municipalities have laws against this (especially in deserts or watersheds) so always double check local ordinances.
Do You Put Toilet Paper in Airhead Composting Toilet?
You sure can! I use Scotts toilet paper because it’s septic-safe and breaks down a lot faster than other brands, like Charmin. All of my toilet paper goes into the solids tank and is composted.
Some van dwellers prefer to use a trash can for their toilet paper. This keeps the composting toilet solids tank from filling as quickly (although if you’re using Scotts toilet paper it’s barely noticeable).
Personally I think it’s weird to have to open a trash can and see someone else’s used TP, I’d rather throw it all down the hatch and forget about it.
Does the Airhead Composting Toilet Require Electricity?
Technically, yes. There’s a 12 volt exhaust fan that helps remove odors and aid the composting process.
In reality, you don’t need to use this. Your composting toilet will still function without the fan, but you might have a few more bugs.
Is There an Airhead Toilet Discount Coupon?
Unfortunately, the airhead composting toilet doesn’t typically go on sale, so it’s hard to find a “deal”.
That said, Airhead occasionally exhibits at trade shows and festivals and where they offer a small discount to attendees – so if you’re in the market to buy a new airhead toilet keep an eye on your local events!
A second option for discounted airhead composting toilets is ebay. Occasionally, airhead composting toilets with modified configurations are available at a reduced price.
Conclusion – My Review of the Airhead Composting Toilet for Van Life
Is the airhead composting toilet worth it? Yes! The airhead composting toilet is a fantastic toilet for van life. It’s the best composting toilet on the market.
However, if you’re looking for a budget toilet option, there are alternatives which offer fewer features for a lower price point.
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Written by Claire Fleming
I’m a travel enthusiast who spends half the year in my self-built camper van with my dog, Oscar, and the other half at my home in Raleigh, North Carolina or on international adventures.